Nicaragua!

The internet here is really slow, so no photos this time unfortunately! I´m uploading them to Facebook so I don´t lose them, and will transfer some over as soon as I can.

We´ve been in Nicaragua just over a week now, and really enjoying it. Granada is a beautiful city, and after the relative isolation of Isla Ometepe it was wonderful to have multiple restaurants to choose from!

We also stayed at a wonderful lake, where we kayaked and swam all day. One of the best spots I´ve been to.

Now we´re in Leon, which I think I like even more, although it looks a lot grubbier. We went to the cinema for the first time – there was a Cameron Diaz film in English, with Spanish subtitles – and today went volcano boarding! Cerro Negro is incredible; the rocks at the top are still warm, even though it hasn´t erupted in ten years or so. You can also still see smoke rising from the crater. Hiking up in the wind, with boards strapped to our backs like Buzz Lightyear, was quite challenging, but luckily it didn´t take too long. Unfortunately on the way down I fell off quite spectacularly – although the guide insisted its not that hard to balance, and that even if you do fall off you won´t keep tumbling down – I did. As I went spinning down the slope the thoughts that went through my mind were; what a liar! and what if I never stop? It´s hard to think straight in such circumstances.

Emily enjoyed her trip more, although she wished she´d gone faster!! Definitely won´t be trying that again. Even before I fell, it was more stressful than fun. It´s a pretty steep slope and you can travel very fast.

Oh, I also got my hair cut. It´s much cooler now!

Englishness and abroad

Sometimes I feel like I’m getting more and more English the longer I’m away. The one thing I consistently miss is a vague bundle of stereotypically English characteristics; a sense of order and respect for punctuality, politeness and humour, honesty.

The time thing is well documented and so I was in someway prepared for it. But I can remember turning up for an 11am bus at 10:30am (eager gringo!) and other passengers laughing at my mistake. The bus left after noon.

On tours especially, no-one ever seems to have any idea about what is going to happen next, or for how long we will stay anywhere. How can you not want to know?

The method of selling is one that particularly grates on me – taxi drivers, shop assistants, restaurant staff, all delight in harrassing tourists as soon as they arrive at any big bus terminal. Simple browsing is not permitted; if you’re lucky the shopkeeper will only follow you around in silence. And it’s even okay to start rubbing oil onto sunbathers to sell a massage – regardless of whether they protest.

Since personal space shrinks in Latin America, queuing on top of someone else is considered acceptable. Pushing past is too. A cashier on the phone should be interrupted if you ever want to buy a ticket.

It’s uncomfortable adapting to these social norms, and it’s given me a new appreciation for the English. But I came away to see something different, and this is definitely different!

On a slightly happier note, here’s some more photos of beautiful Costa Rica…

Month two: Crossings

Month two has been wonderful. I’ve met many more travellers from all over the world, improved my Spanish and made an ocean crossing. I am still scared of bugs.

Places visited: Peru (Cusco, Machu Picchu, Lima), Colombia (Bogota, Cartagena), Panama (San Blas islands, Panama City, David, Alimarante, Bocas del Toros), Costa Rica (Puerto Viejo, Cahuita).

Currencies: Nueve Soles, Colombian Pesos, Dollars/Balboas, Colones.

Time differences: -5, -6, -7 GMT.

Modes of transport: Plane, taxi, car, bus, water taxi, sailboat, chicken bus

Favourite things: Spanish lessons in Cusco, the Inca Trail, stepping onto a deserted island, everything about Panama City, seeing a sloth.

Worst things: Colombian immigration, waking up in Bocas to a powercut in the sweltering heat.

What I should have brought: Litres of insect repellent.

Items bought: T-shirt, necklace, book, sundress.

Items lost: Pants. Very upsetting.

Books read: State of Wonder, Born to Run, The Handmaid’s Tale, A Thousand Splendid Suns, How to Travel the World on $30 a Day

Illnesses and injuries: Sunburn, seasickness, carsickness, general vomiting, scrathes, insect bites of all types.

Strange/ Interesting food: Lobster out of the shell, Dairy Queen

Best food: BBQ fish on an island with coconut rice, Jamaican jerk chicken

Coming up in month three…Costa Rica and its rainforests, Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala. Expecting a lot of volcanoes and beaches!